Penn State Women’s Soccer Comes Back to Win OT Thriller

Story posted September 21, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Gilbert

The Nittany Lions (7-1-1) women’s soccer team notched its first Big Ten win of the 2013 season after a home thriller against the Northwestern Wildcats (2-5-2) on Friday. After a slow start in the first half, Penn State rallied down two goals to send the game into overtime.  In the second overtime period, junior Whitney Church nailed the game-winning goal, sealing the Lions’ 3-2 victory and seventh in 2013.

It was a familiar situation for Penn State, down two goals to nil, with 12 minutes remaining.  Against West Virginia, the Nittany Lions were down two goals and came back to end in a tie.  Against Oklahoma State, the Nittany Lions orchestrated a comeback, again down two goals.  Head coach Erica Walsh acknowledged the struggles her team has had to open up games. 

“We’re putting ourselves in awful situations right now,” said Walsh. “There’s a ton of work to do there.”

After Kate Allen’s second goal of the game for the Wildcats, Penn State’s Whitney Church put the ball in the net less than a minute later, cutting Northwestern’s lead to 2-1.  Then, with 6:18 remaining in the second half, Maya Hayes kicked a beautiful ball that just sailed over goalkeeper Jenna Hascher’s head to tie the game at two.

The game headed to overtime, with both teams playing extremely physical soccer. First overtime expired, and during the second overtime, the hero was Church. The junior scored with 3:27 left in the final overtime period to send the Nittany Lions and their faithful fans into a wild celebration. 

Hayes believed her team was going to pull out the win, even when  down two goals. The confident Hayes relayed what her thoughts were during the game.

“We are winning this game,” she said postgame. “We do not lose on Jeffrey, and we do not lose in the Big Ten.” 

“That’s a good team,” Walsh said of the Wildcats. “I wouldn’t want to face that team right now if I’m a Big Ten team, that team’s hot.” 

The Nittany Lions will face Purdue next Thursday at Jeffrey Field. Purdue is currently 5-2-1 on the season, and have yet to play a Big Ten matchup.  The question will be can Penn State win the first ten minutes of the game, and not shoot themselves in the foot early on. 

“We’ve gotten ourselves into a hole one too many times, and it has to be something that we take a lot of pride in at this point,” said Walsh. 

Despite the early struggles, there is much to be happy about in happy valley for the women’s soccer team. The team, ranked ninth nationally going into the game, solidified themselves as a top-10 team. They will remain in the spotlight, and will look to challenge for a high seed in the NCAA tournament. 

“All smiles tonight,” said Walsh.

And rightfully so, as the Nittany Lions pulled off a tough win and remain one of the premier teams in the country. 

Mike Gilbert is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email myg5257@psu.edu.